Luke Walton is now the head coach of the NBA’s most compelling team.
The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with LeBron James on Sunday in what is the biggest free agency acquisition in league history.
L.A. has not sniffed the playoffs since 2012-13 and has been well below .500 ever since, but now has arguably the best player ever on its roster and is primed to make some noise in the Western Conference.
James alone makes any team a title contender. He has played in eight straight NBA Finals. In 2018, he single-handedly guided a ragtag Cavaliers team through the Eastern Conference.
Not to mention the Lakers could still make a trade for another superstar like Kawhi Leonard and try to challenge the Golden State Warriors’ supremacy. Could you imagine Walton coaching against Steve Kerr in a playoff series? Talk about a win for the University of Arizona.
But Walton’s responsibility has changed seismically, to say the least. Instead of being in charge of a rebuilding team, the Lakers are suddenly in win-now mode with James being 33 years old.
Walton will now have immense pressure on him and his coaching decisions will be under a microscope. Plus, he has to jell with James, who usually has a ton of influence on the teams he plays for. Then there’s still all the LaVar Ball drama, too.
So far Walton has done a good job in Los Angeles, as he led the Lakers to a nine-win increase in his second season at the helm.
But the lights are about to get a whole lot brighter in the City of Angels. How well will Walton handle it?